As Pune City Police probes some documents uploaded on the Savitribai Phule Pune University’s (SPPU’s) website apparently over a decade ago, which are allegedly “Maoist”, the professor who archived these documents has said they were uploaded for academic and educational purposes.
The Pune Police’s special branch has initiated an inquiry into how the “Maoist” documents were uploaded on the SPPU’s website as part of a ‘Project on Archiving Documents on Human Rights’.
According to the SPPU website, the project work was coordinated by Professor Sujata Patel and the grant for it “was made available by the Center for Social Sciences”.
Professor Patel, who is now a national fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) in Shimla, told The Indian Express in an emailed response, “Documents on the website, under the project titled ‘Archives and Document Programme’, had been uploaded for academic and educational purposes.”
“I am informed through newspaper reports that the university has set up a committee to inquire into this matter. In these circumstances, it will be most appropriate to answer institutional queries prior to others,” she said.
When asked if either SPPU officials or Pune City Police personnel have tried to contact her over the matter, she didn’t give a specific reply.
According to the IIAS website, Patel has taught sociology at universities in Hyderabad and Pune, as well as at the SNDT Women’s University. “A historical sensibility and a combination of four perspectives — Marxism, feminism, spatial studies and post-structuralism — influences her work which covers diverse areas such as modernity and social theory, history of sociology/social sciences, city-formation, social movements, gender construction, reservation, quota politics and caste and class formations in India,” stated the website.
The documents were uploaded over a decade ago and the matter came to the fore only when Nagpur-based Professor Arvind Sovani, who runs an organisation called ‘Bhumkal Sanghatna’, which claims to be “anti-Naxal”, demanded an inquiry into it. Sovani had claimed that documents of banned Maoist groups had been uploaded on the SPPU’s official website and there was nothing about human rights in them.
The documents were uploaded on the website under the title ‘Documents on Human Rights Violations’, which is a part of the ‘Archives and Document Programme’ of the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) of SPPU.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, special branch, Mitesh Ghatte had told mediapersons on Thursday, “Taking serious cognizance of the objectionable documents on the SPPU website, we have initiated an inquiry into this matter. Probe is on to know the sources from where these documents were procured and the purpose behind displaying them on the SPPU website.”
Professor Dr Anjali Kurane of CSSH said she had written to SPPU Vice-Chancellor Nitin Karmalkar and urged him to look into the matter. “I have asked the V-C to look into this issue. He will decide further course of action… One way to do so is by forming a committee to conduct an inquiry,” said Kurane.
“The project on archiving documents on human rights violations is very old. It was done by professor Patel between 2007 and 2009….The documents were archived and uploaded on the website for future research and academic purposes,” she said.